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In the bustling heart of dusty La Paz is a bizarrity – a kind of English country home with delicious coffee.
I remember Top Gear went to Bolivia. Jeremy Clarkson said that “La Paz is the highest capital city in the world and also… the worst”. He was wrong on point one. These days, officially, Sucre is the capital of Bolivia (I know, that’s not what it says on my map either).
He might have been right about point two though (I jest).
Anyway, it’s not the most refined city in the world, but El Consulado, sticking out like a sore thumb, might just be the most refined cafe in the world.
It’s hardly the tucamanas, honking Dodge buses, old roads, jungle and local eateries of Bolivia that we’d come to know and love. I don’t know what we were doing there – I’m sure it’s more for ambassadors than for backpackers.
Then again, it was nice to pop in to a place like El Consulado for a change. It’s an oasis of calm, kitted out something lovely, with a small garden, a gentile conservatory, bookshelves, art and a huge dining table. The waiters are dressed smartly and the drinks are well presented.
It’s a magical wardrobe, not to Narnia, but to an English Heritage property in Wiltshire.
The best reason to go is the coffee. My french press was the best coffee I had in three months travelling around South America. It was freshly roasted and freshly ground, picked from the local estates at Coroico, 4 hours from La Paz.
It had a wonderful flavour. I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed it after all those Nescafes! The beans are on sale for home use.
I also had a latte which was pretty poor (stick to the caffetiere).
Despite the poshness, the drinks prices were reasonable enough. There’s also plenty of food, which is more expensive.
Cafe Consulado is an incongruous place, but its swish, friendly, peaceful and worth it for the coffee.
(behind Plaza Hotel). Map shows approximate location only.
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Nuestra Señora de La Paz
We visited on 30 July 2010.